Telemarketers have become a real nuisance in recent years. They will ask an endless series of questions and invariably try to sell you something.
Unfortunately, this is a familiar situation to many people. But how did they get your phone number in the first place?
In this article, we'll tell you how telemarketers find phone numbers to call, whether it's legal, and how to prevent it.
How is my number used for spam calls?
Telemarketers have different ways of finding numbers to call. Usually a third party is involved from whom they buy lists of numbers. Wherever you left your phone number could be a potential source of data for telemarketers.
For example, you are a registered voter or you applied for a credit. Or maybe you provided your phone number when you bought something, entered a contest, or donated to charity. These are all large databases that telemarketers could attempt to buy from their owners.
Basically, anyone can become a victim of telemarketers, especially if companies use robocalls. Robocallers aren't even people; they are computers programmed to dial random phone numbers, including those that are not listed. Although robocalls are a prohibited type of telemarketing, some flout the law. Additionally, political candidates and charities are not prohibited from using robocalls.
It is estimated that thousands of people lose money to phone scammers every year, ranging from a few dollars to their entire savings. Scammers will do anything to gain your trust, including chatting, calling you by your first name, and asking about your children. They can impersonate a service representative (like a phone or electric provider) or claim to have information about a consumer product you use.
While anyone can fall victim to telemarketers, many scammers target certain demographics, such as seniors or millennials. Falling for their deception tactics not only puts your funds at risk, but also increases your chances of being stalked by telemarketers in the future.
Can telemarketers legally call using your number?
Calling someone else's phone number as a telemarketer is not strictly prohibited. FCC regulations prohibit any person or entity from providing misleading or inaccurate caller ID information for the purpose of deceiving, inflicting damages, or unfairly obtaining anything of value pursuant to the Privacy Act. truth in caller ID.
However, under this settlement, there is no intent to harm. If it's a legal business, telemarketers can use other people's numbers. Even if the intent is to hurt or deceive, some call centers are located outside of the United States, making it difficult to regulate or shut them down.
Is there anything I can do about this?
You can take a few steps to avoid these annoying calls. You can subscribe to the "Do Not Call List" which will prevent sales calls from reaching you. However, it is still possible to receive other calls such as calls from political parties, charities, telephone surveys, debt collectors or information calls. The list has been around for 15 years and over 200 million numbers have been registered.
The advantage of telemarketing calls is that you can tell if they are telemarketing calls before you even answer the phone. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
- The number is unfamiliar to you.
- The first six digits of the phone number are the same as the first six digits of your ten-digit phone number.
- It is marked as SPAM on your caller ID.
- This is a call from a city where you just bought a plane ticket or booked a hotel stay online.
If you decide to answer the phone even if you don't know the number, count to five silently before saying hello. They'll probably say something then if it's someone you know. You can respond if you recognize the voice. Robocallers, on the other hand, will hang up if there is no answer. There will usually be a second or two of latency before the person on the other end of the line starts talking if it's a human telemarketer.
Telemarketers are not always eager to identify themselves. However, if you say "hello" and the person on the other end mispronounces your name or addresses you incorrectly, you're probably talking to a telemarketer. If the person on the other end of the phone is asking for your personal information, they're probably a scammer rather than a telemarketer.
The best thing to do if you find yourself in such a situation is to hang up or say you are not interested in what they are offering. You should never confirm the pronunciation or spelling of your name, give out your contact or credit card information, or any part of your social security number. Do not try to persuade the person on the other end of the line to add you to a "do not call list".
Another thing you can do to prevent telemarketers from calling you is to change your voicemail. Redirect all unknown numbers to voicemail and explain the situation in a brief message. This will prevent the telemarketing company from contacting you again and your phone number will become less appealing to them.
You can also download an app to block unknown numbers. Using an app to block incoming calls from people who aren't on your contact list is a handy way to prevent telemarketers from contacting you. Any unrecognized number will be sent to your voicemail.
Some of these steps won't work immediately, but they will make a long-term difference. If the telemarketer is repeatedly blocked from reaching you, they will move on to another unfortunate person.
Where can I report unwanted calls?
If you haven't lost any money and just want to report a call, go to DoNotCall.gov and fill out the simplified reporting form.
Go to RapportFraud.ftc.gov if you have been the victim of a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you.
It's best if you report the caller's phone number, the number that shows on your caller ID. Even if you think it is spoofed or tampered with, you should report it to any number you are asked to call back. If possible, include the actual date and time of the call.
Will I hear from the FTC?
Because the FTC receives millions of reports each year, it is unable to respond to each one individually. However, your report is important. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other law enforcement agencies review records to identify and prosecute those responsible for illegal calls and scams.
The FTC also collects the phone numbers you've reported and distributes them each business day to help telcos and other industry partners who are developing call blocking and tagging solutions.
Prevention is key
Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you reduce or get rid of telemarketing calls. Keep in mind that it is better not to answer suspicious calls or direct them to your voicemail than to deal with telemarketers. Also keep an eye on where you leave your details.
If nothing seems to help you, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). According to the director of the agency, it is trying to crack down on people making illegal robocalls and fake calls, so any information you submit could be helpful. You can file a complaint with their online Consumer Complaints Center.
Have you ever been a victim of telemarketers? What did you do in these situations? Do you have any recommendations? Let us know in the comment section below!